Frontier Defense is a wave-based, co-operative game mode that was added to Titanfall in Game Update 8. This game mode is compatible with all Titanfall maps including their DLC counterparts. It returned to Titanfall 2 in July 2017's Operation Frontier Shield DLC.
Frontier Defense is a wave based, cooperative game mode where four Militia Pilots must work together to defend an objective known as a Harvester from numerous, increasingly difficult waves of IMC forces. Each map has a customized series of waves that will always spawn, allowing for player strategies for specific rounds to be developed. Upon completion of a match, players will be assigned a star rating based on how many Minions they have killed, alongside other factors such as total deaths and how much health the Harvester has left.
During each wave, players will have to repel significant numbers of IMC forces and keep the Harvester from being destroyed. Each wave is considered clean once every IMC unit has been destroyed, and players will have to overcome between four and six waves in a typical match (depending on the specific map; some have as few as two or three). Should the Harvester be destroyed over the course of a wave, the wave will be reset and the Pilots given another chance, though there are only two re-tries per match. Between each wave, players will be given a Light Turret they can position at their discretion, though each player may only have three Light Turrets active at any given time. Should a player die over the course of a wave, they'll respawn in a Crow dropship that will circle over the battlefield and drop them off near the Harvester - or they can spawn in via Titanfall if their Titan is ready. Points in this mode are scored through killing enemy units, and can also be gained through bonuses, like keeping the Harvester undamaged over the course of a wave and not using any retries.
Any Heavy Turrets on the map (bar those seen on Fracture) can also be hacked and enabled to provide the defending Militia with additional firepower. Whilst not absolutely vital to success, any additional firepower is welcome under such pitched combat conditions - and the turrets are attractive targets to the IMC's Titans. If disabled, the turrets can simply be re-enabled via hacking them with the Data Knife.
Both Grunts and Spectres have been equipped with various weapons not found in their typical loadouts, such as the Spitfire Light Machine Gun, Sidewinder even a Hemlok BF-R in rare circumstances. Spectres have their R97 Compact SMGs replaced with the more deadlier Combat Advanced Round Submachine Gun as well as having the ability to Rodeo Titans. Grunts and Spectres may also use the Sidewinder or Mag Launcher as their anti-Titan weapons, though the Charge Rifle is limited to Sniper Spectres.
- Sniper Spectre: Sniper Spectres behave similar to a normal Spectre, except upon deployment they will cloak to avoid detection. They're equipped with a Longbow-DMR Sniper and a Charge Rifle to attack Titans (and the Harvester) from a great distance. Sniper Spectres prefer to stay at extremely long range, much like Mortar Titans, especially if the map offers long sight lines to the Harvester (e.g. Lagoon). Sniper Spectres can be hacked, even when cloaked, though care should be taken when disabling them as they tend to travel in pairs.
- Suicide Spectre: As the name implies these Spectres are programmed to rush towards the Harvester and explode upon reaching their objective or their enemy. A single Suicide Spectre has enough explosives to kill even the most skilled Pilot, and a group of them are capable of killing Titans. That said, Suicide Spectres are very fragile, and their explosions will harm allied IMC units as well. A skilled player can exploit this, causing chain reactions amongst groups of Suicide Spectres to quickly clear them out or tear through high-priority targets. Suicide Spectres become armed either by taking damage or coming into proximity with a valid target (e.g. a Titan or Pilot). As a result, they cannot be hacked like regular Spectres. Suicide Spectres can even detect pilots through walls.
- Cloak Drone: A IMC drone that projects a cloaking field that conceals all units beneath it, including Titans. While it does not possess any offensive capabilities, it can help the attacking troops to get within striking distance of the Harvester, and should be taken out quickly. Cloaked units do not appear on the minimap, which can also allow lone Mortar Titans to evade detection for a short time - or even allow Nuke Titans to get dangerously close.
- Titans: IMC Titans in this mode, if they are not one of the three other variants, can use a variety of different preset loadouts. Individually they pose little threat (and can be easily dispatched by the average Pilot), but in later waves they are frequently deployed alongside Arc and Mortar Titans. They can use most weapons, but typically prefer the Quad Rocket as their primary weapon, and use the Vortex Shield or Electric Smoke as their Tactical. They rarely seem to use any kind of Ordnance.
- Nuke Titan: An Ogre variant equipped with a massive Nuclear Ejection payload that will rush towards the Harvester while trying to avoid Titan engagements. Upon reaching the Harvester (or alternatively upon reaching a doomed state), it will detonate, inflicting severe damage to all nearby units, including the Harvester. Unlike most other Titans, Nuke Titans will stop moving when entering their doomed state. Nuke Titans cannot damage other Nuke Titans, so care should be taken to prevent them from getting close to the Harvester. Nuke Titans use the Vortex Shield.
- Arc Titan: A specialized Stryder variant armed with an Arc Cannon, Arc Titans also generate a powerful Arc Field around them that will rapidly drain the shields of Militia Titans and the Harvester, as well as make them impossible to Rodeo. They are often deployed alongside Nuke and Mortar Titans in later waves. Their Arc Cannon is highly effective and accurate; combined with their Arc Field, they are extremely dangerous to engage on foot.
- Mortar Titan: A very dangerous Atlas variant wielding a specialized version of the Quad Rocket, Mortar Titans typically set up on the edges of the map and shell the Harvester from a vast distance, requiring players to go on the offensive to deal with them. A group of Mortar Titans left unhindered will quickly reduce the Harvester to scrap, and should be considered a priority target. Mortar Titans will cease their bombardment if they take enough damage or if a pilot begins to Rodeo them. When attacked, Mortar Titans will deploy a Particle Wall to defend themselves.
- Goblin: The IMC regularly deploys Grunts and all Spectre variants to the battlefield via four-man drop pods and the Goblin Dropship. Whilst the drop pods cannot be intercepted, Goblin Dropships can be shot down during their (short) deployment window. This requires a considerable amount of damage; weaker weapons such as the XO-16 Chaingun are insufficient, but the 40mm Cannon can make particularly short work of the Goblin (especially with the Burst Fire upgrade). Goblins are worth 100 points when destroyed.
- On maps with lots of Nuke Titans the best way to take them is to have a player Titan with nuclear ejection and the Spitfire LMG with Slammer Mod to take them out quickly. The Atlas' Damage Core can also be helpful.
- Nuke Titans are immune to friendly Nuke Titan explosions thus requiring players to either detonate their Nuke Titan in clustered groups or take them out individually.
The Frontier Defense gamemode returns in Titanfall 2, as the central focus of the Operation Frontier Shield DLC. It has recieved numerous major updates and changes to add much more depth to the fairly barebones objective of the first game.
Changes from Titanfall to Titanfall 2
- The mode supports only eight of Titanfall 2's maps as opposed to supporting every single Titanfall map, DLC and Standard. In addition, maps cannot be manually selected as in the first game and are instead randomly selected from the map pool like any other playlist.
- The mode will support five waves as a standard. Wave configurations are still unique to each map, but the total number of waves is always 5 - even maps that in the original Titanfall supported a different number such as the infamous Rise.
- Earn cash for defeating enemies that you can spend in between waves to purchase tools like Batteries, Arc Traps, Sentries, and more.
- Players can pool their resources to help the team buy important items that might otherwise be too expensive for any single pilot to buy. This function is only available on Normal or higher.
- Five seperate difficulties - Easy, Normal, Hard and Master. Insane difficulty is available as a Featured Mode, which rotates map on a per-month basis. Hard and above require that players reach a specific Aegis Rank (see below) before becoming playable.
- New Titan Progression – ‘Aegis Ranks’
- Earn Aegis Ranks by completing matches of Frontier Defense. Aegis Ranks can unlock powerful upgrades for your Titans, helping you succeed at higher difficulty levels. For now these Ranks will only apply to Frontier Defense.
- Titan selection is made at the start of the game and cannot be changed after your first Titanfall. This means strategies and builds must be carefully considered; adjust for the map and build your team accordingly.
- Whilst your Titan choice is locked in, you can still Edit your Titan Loadout, and the changes will apply upon your next Titanfall. This can be useful if you accidentally installed the wrong kits.
Although many of the Minions from the original Titanfall returned, many more have been changed and upgraded to be even more effective in attacking the Harvester.
- Spectres, Sniper Spectres, and Suicide Spectres have all been removed from the lineup of enemies. The Sniper and Suicide variants have been replaced with Mortar Spectres and Stalkers respectively.
- Mortar Spectres deploy in fireteams of 4 and act in much the same role as Mortar Titans, and are able to deploy Hard Cover on higher difficulties.
- Stalkers are unarmed; they will simply march towards the Harvester and explode. Upon taking damage, they will start sprinting in intervals, and may do so even if they aren't attacked. They will also explode if stepped on by a Titan. They are usually unarmed, but they can be equipped with EPG at higher difficulties.
- Ticks may also spawn, both in Drop Pods and deployed from Reapers.
- Grunts will additionally spawn with a much wider variety of weaponry not seen in regular gameplay, such as Charge Rifles and Mag Launchers. The range of weapons they can spawn with varies by difficulty.
- Shield Captain Grunts will also spawn alongside their regular brethren, using their Particle Shields to protect their squad from incoming fire. However, they only spawn on Master and Insane difficulty.
- Plasma Drones, Reapers, and new Titan types have been added to the enemy lineup. Reapers are especially effective against the Harvester at close range. They are also capable of spawning Ticks.
- Plasma Drones will attack in packs of four or five, sweeping through and making attack runs on the Harvester.
- Cloak Drones reappear, cloaking enemy units (including titans) underneath them.
- Sniper Titans may be deployed to suppress players and snipe at the Harvester from afar, based on Tone and Northstar.
- Arc Titans now utilise the Ronin chassis, along with all his abilities.
- Nuke Titans now utilise the Legion chassis and spawn with a shield.
- Mortar Titans now utilise the Tone chassis, albeit equipped with the indirect-fire-capable Quad Rocket.
- Mortar Titans have had their health significantly reduced, possibly to compensate for rodeo changes.
- Aside from their specialised variants, regular Legions, Northstars, Ions, Scorch, Tone, Ronin and Monarch will all spawn as standard Titans. However, they do not utilise their abilities as effectively as their specialised counterparts.
- Scorch Titans, however, are very effective and will accurately aim their Thermite Launcher and abilities without remorse.
Upon killing enemies and damaging Titans, players will earn money in a manner similar to that of Bounty Hunt. Finishing a wave will provide you with 700 on Regular difficulty, 600 on Hard and (presumably) 500 and 400 on Master and Insanity, respectively. Additional cash rewards are given at the end of each wave if various objectives are met, depending on their completion status.
- Flawless Wave - The Harvester's health was not touched by enemy forces (100 Credits)
- Wave MVP - Having the highest combined Combat + Support Score in that wave (100 Credits)
- No Deaths - Awarded to players who have not died that wave. Note that this is issued on a per-player basis, and does not factor in the deaths of anyone else on the team (100 Credits)
This money can be spent between waves by interacting with a Mobile Hardpoint located on the map, bringing up a menu to purchase boosts and unlockables. These include;
- Amped Weapons (100) - Applied instantly: increases firepower for all Pilot (but not Titan) weapons. Cheap, but effect ends if you're killed .
- Amped Battery (400) - Applied instantly: equips a special orange battery that can bring Titans out of the Doomed state, and provides more Health and Shield than a regular Battery. Can be used on own or friendly Titans. Seems to restore 2,500 Health(one full bar) and fully restores Shields. It will restore Shields first, and any remaining energy goes to health. If Shields are full, it restores 5,000 health (two full bars).
- Arc Trap (650) - Deployed manually: a recharging trap that stuns infantry and slows Titans within its area of effect when triggered. Has a short recharge cycle between uses. Can be picked up and redeployed if desired. There is no limit on the number of arc traps that can be placed by each pilot.
- Sentry Turret (1,200) - Deployed manually: a sentry turret that functions much like the regular wave-earned turrets in the original Frontier Defense. Destroyed turrets can be repaired and reactivated by interacting with them. Turrets can be picked up and redeployed if desired. Each pilot is limited to two turrets.
- Nuke Rodeo (500) - Activated manually: when Rodeoing an enemy Titan, you'll be prompted to Nuke Rodeo. This overrides the standard Rodeo and injects a Core Overload Grenade (essentially a modified Battery) into the Titan; this causes it to explode after a short delay, whilst the activating pilot is launched clear as if Ejecting. Multiple uses can be held at once, and are not lost if you are killed.
- Harvester Shield Booster (1,200) - Activated manually: immediately restores the Harvester's shield to 100% and makes it invulnerable for a few seconds.
For map-specific strategies, see the map's specific article.
- Arc Traps are essential for locking down chokepoints and crossroads, and layered traps can slow down a massed advance, rendering them vulnerable to other attacks such as the Nuke Rodeo.
- Nuclear Ejections caused by the Nuke Rodeo special will damage (and often outright destroy) all enemy units in the area of effect. This can be used to great effect in chokepoints (especially on Rise) as a single Nuke Rodeo can take out a significant number of enemies at once. It can be worth storing a Nuke Rodeo charge on the offchance that such an opportunity presents itself.
- Mortar Titans tend to cluster in pairs or trios. A well-placed Nuke will usually eliminate the entire artillery battery instantly.
- Be careful when using this tactic in confined spaces, as you may find yourself launched into a low ceiling and subsequently unable to escape the blast. Using Phase Shift would allow the player to escape the blast at the last second.
- The LG-97 Thunderbolt can be used to damage groups of titans and other enemies all at once if fired right, quickly building your Titan Meter.
- Scorch is especially effective at locking down areas thanks to his incendiary area of effect attacks and traps. Rise is a really good map for Scorch since is not a wide open map type is very easy for Scorch to set up good combos, have good covers in most situations and kill a lot quickly and efficiently. Likewise, he excels at holding the narrow passage beneath the bridge on Black Water Canal.
- Monarch is a solid support choice, as she can help keep allies in the fight for longer and is also highly survivable when played carefully. Her Maelstrom upgrade can also serve to lock down checkpoints very effectively, especially if combined with Counter Ready due to the fact that she will be able to deploy even more Electric Smoke.
- Legion, like Scorch, is highly effective in narrow chokepoints, as his Aegis Rank 2 ability causes all Predator Cannon rounds to pierce through enemies. Northstar's Piercing Shot is also very useful in situations such as this.
- A Ronin equipped with Overcore and Highlander can be extremely effective in combating Titans in their spawns, as eliminating them quickly while extending Sword Core's duration will allow a skilled Pilot to effectively remain in core for minutes at a time. A similar effect can be observed with Ion's Reflex Cannon and Scorch's Hot Streak, both allowing the player to chain Cores and kills for massive damage.